Thursday, 3 January 2019

2018

As last year, I try to recap the year.

Firstly, what I said in the 2017 post, the idea of platform-specific pages for the blog has not proceeded, although I've updated the existing Sinclair QL one. I'll have to look into it some more.

I have avoided buying more old computer hardware, although I did buy that atrocious hand held console and a crappy flea market NES-clone. And just at the end of 2018, a C128D motherboard. Oh well.

On with the show!


Releases, Coding, Events

At the end of 2017 I was quite enthusiastic about Sinclair QL, but it turned out I did not spend that much time with it after the beginning of 2018. Even the work on the still unreleased QLDD software was mostly done in late 2017.

Commodore 64 has kept its position as my retro favorite, and the building of a new desktop case for the computer has occupied much of my hobby-time (and this blog). I recently got my IRQhack64 transfer working and a more in-depth blog post is already in the works.

Multipaint was revised into a 2018 version, and a nice version it is. I'm beginning to see the need for better file handling (e.g. recent/last file, autosaves, overwrite warnings) and possible GUI updates.

Panasonic JR-200 returned in a more virtual form, with starting the work on an emulator. I hope this eventually results in something new for the platform.
As usual, I also produced some pixel/text graphics. One was sent to a disk cover competition, the first time I made a 5'25" disk cover. This type of scene output was quite unfamiliar to me, I've probably never seen demoscene disk covers before the 2010s.

The demogroup Desire asked me to make a picture for their X-party demo called C 64, Hear 64, and make it I did!


I didn't do that much graphics in 2018, it seems. But after Christmas, I released a new Commodore 64/plus4 game, Digiloi, following the footsteps of Fort Django. Another PETSCII showcase, it turned out much more popular than I thought it would be.

It also made the blog post about the game easily the most read entry in 2018 and one of the most read altogether.


I'm the first to say there's much more potential in PETSCII games than what I was able to put together here, as even I could see in hindsight it might be coded better in parts. Even as it is, more stuff could be moved on-screen, but the game was getting a bit crowded.

Also, the plus/4 conversion proved to me finally that this computer is something to explore a bit further.


Games, books, films

From the beginning of the year I have put more attention to Chess, playing puzzles and computer matches at Lichess.org, acquiring sets and reading literature. I even went to a beginners' tournament.

But I'm starting to waver a bit. The amount of time it would take to improve my skills might be disturbingly high. So far I've not seen reason to stop altogether. I'll blog about my experiences at some point.


During summer I played some Atari 2600, and recently I've enjoyed old Commodore 64 games such as Blue Max, Rambo and Raid Over Moscow, also taking mental notes about what makes these games click.

Of more modern games I played Tomb Raider 2013 version, as it worked quite nicely on my Linux. I also had a peep at Life is Strange, but it didn't catch my interest. At the very end of the year I put some effort to try to solve Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders, but it's still going on. I still play Larn every now and then.

On the book front, I read a bunch of sci-fi books, with emphasis on bestsellers and famous books I might have missed earlier. Turns out there is quite a lot. Some of this I also documented in the blog, noting how many plots and ideas in these books have found their ways into various games.


Westworld was the most important TV series. I expected more nods to western cliches & classics, but the concept is less about the west and more about the responsibility towards the imaginary worlds we create. The parallels and connections to video game culture are obvious.

I liked the season 2 less, it felt more of a mixed bag and less purposeful than the first season.

W was an enjoyable Korean "paranormal romance" (genre made popular by Twilight, I guess) TV series which I learn is a quite common there. It's from 2016 but now shown on Finnish net TV. A comic book artist discovers a doorway into the comic world, bit like in that A-Ha video. The daughter of the artist gets involved with the tragic yet resourceful hero of the series and the indefinite murderer.

Take ... on ... me ..
The new Doctor Who with Jodie Whittaker was enjoyable TV somewhat in the same way the 1st new Who season (Eccleston) was, except with higher production. What I mean the writers have given up complex overarching plots and mysteries and concentrated on the one-off episodes, with less metaphysics. The format and storytelling was more straightforward.


This was clearly the most brutal reboot of the series in the 2000s. There was something of a post-Brexit and post-Trump vibe with the season. Instead of pushing the proud Britishness every now and then it tried to be a bit more considerate and inclusive in more ways than just adding a minority companion.

After the New Year's Eve episode I am even more convinced that the writers have decided to 'stretch' the narrative. What would have taken a few episodes at best for each new doctor, now takes a whole season. As the doc returns in 2020, they have plenty of time to think of a follow-up.

Solo: A Star Wars Story. To me it was a pleasant small surprise, even if the film does not add much to the broader 'Wars lore. Well, Lucas was originally influenced by early movie serials, and in Star Wars we now have them. Is that a good thing?

As Solo was the character that most embodied the "space cowboy" side of Star Wars, it makes sense to make his film a western. The space scenes on the other hand were a bit messy. What with the candy-colored Maelstrom and the Maw, it's like there never was a good clean space shot, the kind that made the original films so stylish.



On with 2019...!